Saturday 12 March 2022

Book Review: Forbidden Colours by Mishima Yukio (Modern Classic)

Title: Forbidden Colours
Author: Mishima Yukio
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 2008 (1951)
Format: Paperback
Genre: Modern Classic
Source: Bought Copy

Shinsuké is an ageing author whose books present women as creatures of marble perfection, but whose diary contains his true opinion - a disdainful and bilious loathing, engendered by three marriages and countless affairs. When he meets the Yuichi, he sees in the young boy's incredible beauty and his homosexuality the perfect tools with which to torment and punish the opposite sex. In this starkly fierce and original novel, Shinsuké callously delights in using Yuichi to trap a girl in a loveless marriage and to exact other revenges. But Yuichi soon becomes suffused with a sense of his own power and, no longer willing to be manipulated by anyone, runs dangerously out of control.


I am gradually working my way through Mishima's novels, and Forbidden Colours does not disappoint. It is a stark, angry work that covers many themes including arranged marriage, homosexuality in mid-20th century Japan, and misogyny. As with all Mishima's novels, the characters are wonderfully drawn and captivating, as is the prose and the ideas within it. This is one of his longer works, but never feels plodding, and the action taking place held my interest right through until the end. Yuichi and Shinsuké are certainly memorable characters who will long stay with me.


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